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  1. #1
    Moderator RX951's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    League City, Texas

    Lightbulb Safe Boat/PWC Launching


    Preparing to tow safely

    • Drain accumulated water from the boat's bilge.
    • Lower the tongue socket onto the ball on the trailer hitch and lock together securely.
    • Connect trailer lights to towing vehicle and check turn signals, brake lights and backup lights.
    • Attach safety chains from trailer to tow vehicle securely in a criss-cross fashion.
    • Check tie-down straps and winch and cable.
    • Make sure wheel bearings run free and are properly lubricated.
    • Check tire pressure, lug nuts and test brakes.
    • Make sure to stow drain plug in the boat so any remaining water can drain and it is there when you get to the ramp.
    • Don’t forget the keys to the boat.

    Road Handling

    The weight that you are trailing will make your towing vehicle less responsive in many respects. Speeding up, slowing down and all maneuvers will require more time to accomplish. Leave more room between you and a vehicle in front of you to make sure you can stop should they brake suddenly.

    Make sure your side view mirrors are large enough to provide an unobstructed rear view on both sides of the vehicle.

    Remember that the turning radius is much greater. Curbs and barriers must be given a wide berth when turning corners. Backing a trailer can be somewhat tricky but with practice you should be able to accomplish the task in a minimum amount of time. The trailer will turn in the opposite direction of the car; take it slowly and try to avoid oversteering. Prior to operating on the open road, practice turning, backing up, etc. on a level, empty parking lot.


    1. Do initial launch preparations away from the ramp so as not to impede launching for others.

    2. Raise the outdrive or motor, remove the support bracket and install the drain plug.

    3. Disconnect the trailer wiring. Remove tie down straps and again check the drain plug.

    4. Make any equipment adjustments necessary and check the drain plug.

    5. Connect the fuel tank, check fluid levels and check the drain plug.

    6. Drive to the ramp and back the boat and trailer down the ramp, keeping the tow vehicle's wheels out of the water.

    7. Set the emergency brake, shift into Park, and block the wheels.

    8. Someone should get aboard the boat, turn on the blower, lower the motor, look for water entering the boat, sniff the bilge and start the motor.

    9. Make sure you have attached a bow line to the boat, then release the winch and disconnect the winch line.

    10. You should be able to launch the boat with a slight shove or by backing the boat off the trailer under power.

    11. Return the towing vehicle to the parking lot as soon as the boat is launched so the next person in line may proceed.

    12. Move the boat to an area away from the ramp to load additional equipment and passengers.


    The steps for retrieving the boat are essentially the reverse of launching and you should keep in mind being courteous of others launching and retrieving.

    1. Unload the boat away from the ramp if possible.

    2. Back the trailer into the water, again keeping the tires of the tow vehicle at waters edge, not in the water.

    3. Maneuver the boat carefully onto the submerged trailer, attach a bow line and shut off the engine prior to raising it.

    4. Winch the boat onto the trailer and secure it.

    5. Drive the trailer and boat out of the ramp for cleanup, reloading, securing equipment and safety check.

    6. Remove the drain plug to allow water to drain from the bilge.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Rotterdam,NY & Moneta, VA
    its also a good idea to hook your boat or ski to a hose at home before heading to the ramp.

    you should attach all ropes and fenders before going to put it in the water. also while your prepping the boat its a good idea to lift the hatch or remove the seat to let it vent fumes

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2011
    the biggest mistake i see at the ramps is almost everybody backs the trailer too far into the water when retrieving craft. ive owned quite a few different boats of different styles in 25+ years. its always been my experience that a good rule of thumb is to back the trailer in until the fenders are just sticking out of the water, give or take. that is if your going to drive the boat onto the trailer,like most people do. also on a 2 lane ramp dont take up the middle!!!!! a couple days ago on the river i watched a guy with a nice new boat trying to drive his boat on the trailer and having a hard time. the fenders of the trailer were at least 2 feet underwater! and the guy in the truck had taken the middle on a busy 2 lane ramp, making everyone wait.big mistake! just my .02

    i could sit at a busy boat ramp for hours and watch. it can be pretty entertaining
    Last edited by redhousexp; 05-26-2011 at 03:42 PM.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2011
    heres another good idea. whenever your craft(s) are off the trailer, give the trailer a good 5 minute inspection. check inside the wheels for grease, check all over the frame for cracks, especially the spring hangers, check the bunks and the mounting hardware,any wires hanging loose or anything like that. might save ya some headaches on a future trip.

    Happy boating and trailering!!!

  5. #5
    20 feet Boy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Bend OR
    And don't forget the lanyard. Had to dive over a 100 miles to get one and have it reprogrammed.

  6. #6
    Interesting! Thanks...

  7. #7
    Dart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Orlando Florida
    I would suggest if you are new to towing. Get a large open space, put out some boxes and practice reversing SLOWLY.

    When you get to the ramp you will not park in the middle!!

    It's not hard just practice.
    Last edited by K447; 01-20-2013 at 12:18 PM.

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